JUDGE

Fort Worth Halfway House Wants State's Most Violent Sex Offenders

The owner of a private Fort Worth halfway house called Restoring Hope Center has applied for a state contract that would double its size to house the state's most violent sex offenders.

"The community is going to have concerns. That's why we want to let people know, 'Hey this is what we're doing,'" said the owner, Vida Davenport.

Davenport opened the center, in a house in the 4800 block of East Rosedale Street, 20 years ago.

About 10 offenders live there now.

The center has a curfew and other rules, like signing in and out. But offenders live largely on their own and even cook for themselves. They pay $600 a month in rent.

"I am trying to protect the community," Davenport said. "They're trying to get their lives together."

But if she wins the new state contract, the number could double, she said.

Davenport said she would build a new house on the same corner lot and add surveillance cameras, a fence and full-time security.

The contract is to house the most violent sex offenders – those who have already served prison time and are deemed so dangerous, a judge orders them locked up in a process called civil commitment.

"No, I'm not for that," said neighbor Wanda Hardin, who lives with her 5-year-old grandson. "Why here? Why not in another part of town where there are more adults or businesses where we don't have to worry about our kids?"

Registered sex offender Thomas Armstrong lives and cooks at the center. He recently got his high school degree and is trained to be a welder.

He said he is confident he will not commit another crime.

"If you're willing to change, if you want to change, this is the perfect place to be," he said.

The center's expansion is far from a done deal.

The state has not awarded the contract yet.

And Fort Worth City Councilwoman Gyna Bivens said the property would have to be re-zoned.

Bivens said she had concerns about the center's plans but wanted to see the formal application before making any decisions.

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